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Are We Prepared? Four WMD Crises That Could Transform U.S. Security

This report, written by the staff of the National Defense University Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction in the fall of 2008 and the early winter of 2009, was conceived initially as a transition paper for the new administration following the 2008 American Presidential election.

This report presents four weapons of mass destruction (WMD)-related scenarios that could plausibly occur and radically alter American domestic and national security agendas. Moreover, these scenarios, for which the United States is underprepared, portray challenges that the United States will not overcome shortly. Developing, institutionalizing, and supporting those policies, capabilities, and technologies to successfully overcome these challenges in all likelihood will take years. Consequently, we believe that this paper will continue to have relevance to policymakers, warfighters, responders, and the larger combating WMD community over the coming decade. For this reason, the Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction has chosen to publish this report for a wider audience. We believe that the challenges, concepts, and recommended solutions herein will provide insight to students and practitioners alike. — John F. Reichart February 2009